Islamic State and the 'holy month of jihad': Why does terror group unleash different kind of horror during Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is derived from Ramadhaa which means 'heat of the sun'. The month was named thus because it ‘burns the sins of the believers.’ Since the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in 610 CE in the month of Ramadan, it has been regarded as holy for Muslims worldwide.

A month-long fast is observed by Muslims worldwide to commemorate this first revelation. Ramadan, in 2017, began on 26 May and will end on 24 June (culminating in Eid ul-Fitr). In maintaining a fast from dawn to sunset, the principle of abstinence is established for Muslims. A physical and spiritual detoxification is also the aim behind maintaining the fast.

The fast is meant to remind believers about having compassion for others. However, certain fringe elements have tainted the holy month after attacks have been carried out in Muslim-majority nations.

At the start of the holy month, in Afghanistan's eastern city of Khost, a Taliban car bomber killed 13 people. The targets were CIA-funded militia group. On the second day of the holy month, Islamic State claimed responsibility for shooting dead 29 Christians on a bus in central Egypt. Several other attacks including Tuesday's Baghdad car bombing have been linked with their occurrences during Ramadan.

European security services are preparing themselves for more attacks during Ramadan, as per The Telegraph.

The fundamental question would then be why and not who carries out these attacks. Why would Islamic State maim an Islamic ritual? Why would the Islamic Caliphate decimate its Muslim brothers?

 Islamic State and the holy month of jihad: Why does terror group unleash different kind of horror during Ramadan

Representational image. Reuters

According to The Atlantic, an Islamic State supporter told them over Twitter that "Ramadan is the holy month of jihad."

There is a certain honour attached with committing 'good deeds' during Ramadan. In the Islamic State dictionary, the term 'good deeds' refers to terrorist attacks.

In 2015, the then-Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani celebrated Ramadan by calling for attacks.

The Independent reported that Islamic State released an infographic in their weekly titled, al-Naba. In the infographic, the terror group listed 14 attacks across Europe, US, Asia, Africa, Syria and Iraq, and were gung-ho after 'murdering' 5,200 people in "military operations" during Ramadan.

But why is Islamic State emphasising on 'military operations' when they possibly can think of other horrifying options like severing heads and video-taping the acts?

Mohammed Emwazi, an Islamic State militant was killed in January 2016. Emwazi was better known as Jihadi John, who gained notoriety by appearing in several Islamic State videos. Then onwards, it can be said that Islamic State heavily relied on social media for its recruitments. Several more horrific videos followed. Twitter, Facebook were abuzz with fake profiles built specifically to hypnotize more and more youth.

Islamic State seemed to have the won the propaganda war on social media, but it seems that they are losing battles on the ground.

The Atlantic mentions that Islamic State faces a danger of being eliminated, with airstrikes killing prominent leaders in the group and campaigns to reclaim Mosul and Raqqa becoming successful.

Hence, to demonstrate its power, the terror group will have to look for ways to create terror. Any chance would be golden for the group, even if it meant bloodshed during the holy month of Ramadan. Besides, it appears that Islamic State has been encouraging lone wolf attacks.

Beating the evergreen propaganda drum, as reported by The Express, the terror group told its fanatics to "wait and hide for them in houses, corners, roads" and commit murders. The Express further said that another message was doing the rounds on the Internet, saying jihadis must "never leave one metre without making it hell on earth for disbelievers."

The message also claims that "the tyrants on the island" have closed the door on immigration so militants should have the "door of Jihad opened in their faces". The message ended with the words: "God bless you."

Terrorism and religious propaganda certainly go hand-in-hand, and IS seems to have claimed the phrases as their motto.

Religious hardliners possess enormous power to transform even a rock. They have the power to malign religious teachings and lead one away from the truth. Similar to what IS is doing with its recruits, leading them away, far away, from Islam's truth, encouraging a fallacious martyrdom.

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Updated Date: May 30, 2017 15:23:56 IST